On our first trip to Ireland, we went to Glendalough, County Wicklow.
All I can say about this visit to this ancient place is wow..It was as if the real world disappeared and we were back in the 6th century. Below is a bit of history of this ancient place.
History of Glendalough
|Kevin, a descendant of one of the ruling families in Leinster, studied as a boy under the care of three holy men, Eoghan, Lochan, and Eanna. During this time, he went to Glendalough. He was to return later, with a small group of monks to found a monastery where the ‘two rivers form a confluence’. Kevin’s writings discuss his fighting “knights” at Glendalough; scholars today believe this refers to his process of self-examination and his personal temptations. His fame as a holy man spread and he attracted numerous followers. He died in about 618. For six centuries afterwards, Glendalough flourished and the Irish Annals contain references to the deaths of abbots and raids on the settlement.
At the Synod of Rath Breasail in 1111, Glendalough was designated as one of the two dioceses of North Leinster.
The Book of Glendalough was written there about 1131.
St. Laurence O’Toole, born in 1128, became Abbot of Glendalough and was well known for his sanctity and hospitality. Even after his appointment as Archbishop of Dublin in 1162, he returned occasionally to Glendalough, to the solitude of St. Kevin’s Bed. He died in Eu, in Normandy in 1180.
In 1214, the dioceses of Glendalough and Dublin were united. From that time onwards, the cultural and ecclesiastical status of Glendalough diminished. The destruction of the settlement by English forces in 1398 left it a ruin but it continued as a church of local importance and a place of pilgrimage.
Glendalough features on the 1598 map “A Modern Depiction of Ireland, One of the British Isles” by Abraham Ortelius as “Glandalag”.
Descriptions of Glendalough from the 18th and 19th centuries include references to occasions of “riotous assembly” on the feast of St. Kevin on 3 June.
|Tower and cemetery at Glendalough
|The present remains in Glendalough tell only a small part of its story. The monastery in its heyday included workshops, areas for manuscript writing and copying, guest houses, an infirmary, farm buildings and dwellings for both the monks and a large lay population. The buildings which survive probably date from between the 10th and 12th centuries.
Glendalough – the glen of the two lakes
The location is spellbinding. It encompasses two clear water lakes situated beneath the sheer cliffs of a deep valley which was carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age. The perfect spot for a serene monastic settlement.
Today, Glendalough is one of the most important sites of monastic ruins in Ireland. Fourteen centuries have passed since the death of its founder, St. Kevin, when the valley was part of Ireland’s Golden Age.
The buildings which survive probably date from between the 8th and 12th centuries. The famous Round Tower is in near perfect condition even though it is almost 1,000 years old.
|Upper Lake Lake at Glendalough